by Jeff Schmitt
Bill Aulet (MIT)
Bill Aulet is fond of saying that you learn more from failure than success.
He should know.
Before he became the managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, he ran a startup himself – right into the ground…in just two years. Yes, before he sold startups worth nine figures and raised over a $100 million dollars, Aulet made all the rookie mistakes – and he did so with a family of four and a mortgage to boot.
Aulet ventured out into the fail fast world of startups armed with just a master’s degree in business from MIT that was supplemented with executive experience at IBM. A sure thing, right? Instead of ‘taking the entrepreneurial world by storm,’ he returned a humbled, yet more reflective, man. Aulet’s spell in the wilderness had led him to evaluate where he went wrong – and ask if he could develop a system to better guide aspiring entrepreneurs so he could increase their odds for success. These efforts eventually led to the development of Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup, an acclaimed step-by-step framework for turning an idea into a sustainable enterprise.
“I felt like I learned a tremendous amount,” he told P&Q in 2017. “But it raised the question, could this have been taught in school while I was still at MIT and there was less money being spent. And to me, the answer was yes, I could have learned that stuff if I had the right program. That influenced me to create a program to teach people what I learned in my first startup.”
Now, Aulet is looking forward instead of back. And his advice to future Bill Aulets is as timeless as it is difficult to do. “You have to get out of your comfort zone,” he urges. “Sales people like to work with sales people. MBAs like to work with MBAs. It’s certainly more comfortable. It doesn’t mean it’s the right thing. Research, again, shows that if your team has different skill sets, their odds of being a successful company increase. So, you have to get out of your comfort zone and meet people who are not like you.”